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EU Commission report on the ´´entrepreneurship education´´
“Entrepreneurship education in European schools” is the title of the survey carried out by the European Commission on the strategies and the programs under way in 31 countries and 5 European regions in the area of formation for enterprises. Figures show that the promotion of entrepreneurship education is increasing in most EU countries.
Turning ideas into action. What is understood with “entrepreneurial culture?” according to the EU Executive it consists in the individual ability to “translate ideas into action”. This implies creativity, innovation, competence and assumption of risks, as well as the ability to plan and coordinate projects to reach fixed objectives. It is a field of knowledge within specific education, but the foundations of this project ought to be present already in primary schools. The Commission has been prompting Member States’ involvement with three specific programs: “Innovation Union”, “Youth on the Move” and “An agenda for new skills and jobs”. Enhancing creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training is also a long-term objective for ’Education and Training 2020”.
The example of Northern Europe. The analysis conducted by the European Commission issued a few days ago, carried out in close cooperation with the Eurydice network (that provides information on and analyses of European education systems and policies), shows that entrepreneurship education is mostly widespread in north-European countries. In fact, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Wales and the Flemish part of Belgium) have launched specific strategies to promote entrepreneurship education. While Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey) include it as part of their national lifelong learning, youth or growth strategies. The report shows that in two thirds of the countries entrepreneurship education “is explicitly recognised in the primary education curricula of two-thirds of the countries surveyed”. While entrepreneurship is not taught as a separate subject in primary schools, “half of the countries have defined learning outcomes which relate to entrepreneurial attitudes and skills such as sense of initiative, risk-taking and creativity”. In secondary education, half of the countries integrate entrepreneurship into compulsory subjects such as economics and social sciences, while Lithuania and Romania teach entrepreneurship as a compulsory separate subject. Practical entrepreneurial skills are specified in these countries as well as in Lichtenstein and Norway.
Schools-enterprise synergy. The report by the Commission shows that a dozen countries support initiatives related to entrepreneurship education, focusing on “enhancing closer cooperation between education and business” and on the promotion of small activities run by students. However, specific teacher training in this area is available only in the Flemish Community of Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands. Only a third of European countries “provide central guidelines and teaching materials for entrepreneurship education”. It can be said that this aspect of learning is growing in Europe, but not in Italy, where, according to the report, “there is no current strategy or ongoing initiative for entrepreneurship education, exception made for technical and professional programs”.
Skills and learning. The report reiterates that education “is key to shaping young people’s attitudes, skills and culture” and it is vital that entrepreneurship education is addressed from an early age. Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: “Entrepreneurship education is a driver for future growth and will help us to inspire the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. If Europe wants to stay competitive, it must invest in its people, in their skills, in their ability to adapt and in their ability to innovate”. This means that we need “to encourage a real change of mind-set in Europe towards entrepreneurial attitudes and this starts by instilling a spirit of entrepreneurship from early education onwards”.